|Former Rangwe MP Phillip Okundi.|
A decision by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to name Moses Kajwang’ as the party’s flag bearer in the Homa Bay senatorial by-election continues to elicit mixed reactions.
The move has left six aspirants unhappy and some are re-organising themselves fast to make sure they take part in the February 12 mini-poll.
Apart from Silas Jakakimba who has since resigned as a member of ODM, other participants are looking for other parties to contest the seat.
Former Rangwe MP Phillip Okundi will now vie for the Senate seat on a Maendeleo Party of Kenya ticket.
“I am the frontrunner in the race and I am not going to let a mistake made by ODM’s national elections board ruin my opportunity to serve my people,” he said.
The seasoned politician said he had a well laid-out plan to clinch the seat. “I am launching my campaign very soon. I am going to traverse the county and sell my policies to the people to elect me,” Okundi said.
Kenneth Kambona, George Mboya and Caroli Omondi are yet to declare whether they have quit the race or are also planning to change parties.
The decision to give Kajwang’ the ODM ticket also angered Homa Bay youths who accused the party of being dictatorial.
Some of the youths held demonstrations in Oyugis, Kendu Bay, Homa Bay and Mbita to protest against the party’s failure to seek their input when naming its candidate.
Similar sentiments were expressed by civil society and ODM members in the county criticised the party leadership for allegedly imposing a candidate on the electorate.
Homa Bay County Assembly Minority Leader Isaac Nyandege and Kwabwai Ward Representative Richard Ogindo said it was wrong of the party to give a free nomination certificate to a candidate without consulting the voters.
“It is very wrong for a political party to elect a candidate on behalf of the people. What has happened here will culminate in a situation where a leader serves the interests of the party rather than those of the people,” Nyandege said.
Bunge la Wenyenchi, a civil society group, expressed concern that ODM’s polls board issued a nomination certificate to Mr Kajwang’ without consulting the people.
Led by their co-ordinator Wycliffe Omondi and clerk George Okiki, the members accused chairperson Judy Pareno of bias.
“Raila told us the nomination would be returned to the people because IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) had extended its deadline yet what we are witnessing is completely different. We are calling on Homa Bay residents to shun party politics and elect a senator of their choice come February,” Mr Okiki said.
Kajwang’ will now face Kenya Professional Boxing Association Chair Hillary Alila, businessman Innocent Masara and Medo Misama.
But it is not only ODM that is having problems in Homa Bay. The National Alliance (TNA), through its secretary, had indicated that the party would not field a candidate because those who applied did not meet the requirements.
Some of the aspirants have appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene so they can take part in the by-election.
TNA Homa Bay Chairman Jack Otana and his deputy Charles Amenya, who both say they want to contest the seat, have condemned the party’s position.
The aspirants have until February 5 to present their nomination certificates to IEBC.